Swedish players from Ericsson to Telia have influenced optical developments far beyond their European home. Swedes have a grand tradition of exploring and have been notable early adopters. They seem to perform well both in communications and in management - let's hope.
This month, in particular, you might be forgiven for wondering why we have turned Lightwave Europe into a flag every fan from Malmö to Lulea would be proud to wave - especially when England's first World Cup game is against Sweden. But we cannot avoid reporting and presenting what is happening at the moment. And, in the field of optical communications, Sweden is undeniably hot news. While some observers point to Ericsson as a big factor in the proliferation of communications equipment developers in the greater Stockholm region, there are some underlying factors which are older than the company that has spawned so many optical and photonic offshoots.
Sweden is an enormous country by European standards - 450,000km2 in area, in which just nine million people live. Often, long distances separate remote communities, and this has been a powerful driver towards improving communications. Sweden has been an early adopter of SDH, optical long-haul, the Internet and, of course, mobile communications. Our Sweden Focus from page 25-29 gives some insight into the latest comms technologies from Sverige that are finding markets worldwide.
Whatever Nexans? Well, the French cable maker is planning to become a fibre manufacturer (see page 12). Since it split off from Alcatel, Nexans has concentrated on making silica and polymer optical cable using other manufacturers' fibres. But economics have forced the company to the conclusion that it would be better off making its own fibre. It has completed a brand-new R&D facility in Lyon and will commence production of polymer optical fibre some time next year. It appears that Nexans' timing could be just right, since Corning Optical Fiber Europe has just announced that it expects to see 70% growth in bandwidth demand between now and 2005 (see page 13). With a quarter of the world's fibre marketplace, Europe is second in size only to the US, which is only slightly ahead, purchasing one-third of the total.
While we are certainly not yet "out of the woods" as far as a market recovery is concerned, it seems that every cloud may have a silver lining for somebody. SDH, which some analysts have forecast to be superseded sometime soon, is holding fast against the possibilities afforded by challengers like Ethernet (page 18). Europe's former monopoly PTTs (who said former?) received a roasting at KMI's 6th annual Conference on Fiberoptic Markets in Europe. Unassuming lawyer and telecoms expert Andrew Lipman decried the newly deregulated companies' resistance to unbundled lines, to enable competitors to offer new services. "It doesn't help anybody - even the former PTTs themselves," he told Lightwave Europe. There are apparently more restaurants in Paris than there are unbundled lines. I know - I was there.
Back to the Swedish theme, I say without prejudice that I expect (Sven-Göran) Eriksson's operation to do a brilliant job in their global endeavours - particularly in the Asian markets!
Matthew Peach Editor in Chief, Lightwave Europe firstname.lastname@example.org